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J Natl Med Assoc. 2010 Nov;102(11):1079-83.

Somatization in the conceptualization of sickle cell disease.

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Department of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, 932 Morreene Rd, Durham, NC 27705, USA.


The unpredictable nature of sickle cell disease (SCD) and its social and environmental consequences can produce an unhealthy and almost exclusive focus on physical functioning. At the upper range of this focus on health concerns is somatization. In the current study, using 156 adult patients (55.13% female, 86) with SCD, mean age 35.59 +/- 12.73, we explored the relationship of somatization to pain. We found somatization to be predictive of pain severity and current pain intensity as well as a range of averaged indices of pain over time (p < .0001). We further found somatization to be predictive of a range of negative psychological experiences to include depression, anxiety, and hostility (p < .0001). We interpret these data to suggest that patients with SCD who have a propensity to focus exclusively on their health or are more sensitive to minor changes in their health status (somatization) may also be more likely to report greater concerns about their health and higher ratings of pain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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